Dozens of children from Middlesbrough will start school in style this week – thanks to kind-hearted Trust workers.
Staff from our secure inpatient services (SIS) dug deep into their own pockets to spend hundreds of pounds on school uniforms for youngsters at Ayresome Primary.
Administration manager Sophie Antill initially came up with the idea while sorting out her son’s school wear for the new term – and the initiative snowballed from there.
“Lots of my colleagues have happy memories of shopping for uniforms when their children were younger and, after a discussion around this, I suggested buying uniforms for a local school,” she said.
“I never expected it to get this big – and it’s been emotional at times. I kept thinking of people struggling to buy items and reflecting on how fortunate I was to not have to worry about it so intently. We wanted to help as many families as possible.”
Helping hand on offer from staff
Ayresome Primary was chosen as the link school for the project, as its postcode falls within one of the most deprived communities in Middlesbrough.
Staff from across SIS – including admin, ward staff, housekeepers and leaders – took responsibility for buying individual uniforms and a total of 31 youngsters received support.
“The response was amazing,” said Sophie. “I linked staff up with the extended services manager at the school, and families who would benefit were identified.
“I then aligned each child to a donator – meaning they were given what they specifically needed – and often more as well. It was heart-warming.
“Not only did people buy the usual sweatshirts and polos, but often a lot of extra items too – like hair bobbles, bags and school materials. One family also required shoes – and got them.
“When you consider we only launched this a few weeks ago, just before the school summer holidays, it is amazing what we have achieved. It’s lovely to think we’ve helped so many.”
Plans for the future
Sophie has spent the past six weeks hot-desking at work, after turning her own desk space in the admin office into a school uniform drop-off point.
But, although glad to finally get her seat back, she is already looking ahead to Christmas – when she is planning to hold a festive gift appeal for pupils studying at local schools.
“I want to thank everyone who donated to our uniform appeal. The compassion value of the Trust really, really shone through. People were so happy to help out,” she said.
“As a child I used to love getting my new uniform, then going to school feeling all nice and new – and I wanted the children we were supporting to feel like that too.
“It’s such a nice thing. I just love the idea of all the children going to school in their new uniforms and feeling a million dollars. It makes me smile to think of that.”
Help with cost of living
Charlotte Haylock, headteacher of Ayresome Primary School, welcomed the donation of uniforms and thanked everyone at TEWV who had taken part in the initiative.
She said: “We are delighted with the support that we have received from NHS staff. It really does make a valuable difference.
“With the cost of living impacting on so many, we aim to help our families in a variety of ways to ensure all children can have the same sense of belonging and pride at attending school in uniform. The support means such a lot.”